Review: How to Write a Love Story by Katy Cannon

Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

How to Write a Love Story is all about Tilly, who secretly wrote the ending to her gran’s biggest romance series and sent it to the publisher while her gran, Bea, was in hospital with pneumonia. The reviews say it’s the most satisfying ending ever crafted, and so Bea encourages Tilly to write her own romance novel from start to finish. This should be no problem, since Tilly’s been living on a healthy diet of romance since she was twelve years old and has probably read every boy-meet-girl trope possible.

The downside is, even with all this theoretical knowledge of how to craft the perfect kiss, Tilly gets writer’s block and thinks the solution is experiencing love for herself to make the writing process genuine. I knew I wouldn’t be entirely on board with this plot point, because I fundamentally disagree that good writing can only come from lived experience, but whatever. That’s my ace showing. The angle made me think that young teen girls especially would get something out of this book.

(Also, this book was extremely hetero. It would have been cool if one of the books Bea had written included an LGBT+ plot line, or that one of the romances Tilly mentioned/wrote did. Especially because there are quite a few background romances in this that could have added that diversity I always look for. I think this comes from the fact that I’m doing a Romance module at university and all the books we’ve read have been M/F. I’m dying to find something different!)

All of the writing advice was sweet and definitely made me want to put pen to paper, but it was so easy to get invested in Tilly’s story, my novel had to wait until I was done. And I flew through this at record speed.

Something particularly great about this was the relationship between Bea and Tilly. You don’t often see relationships between grandparents and protagonists, and exploration into the experience of the elderly is something I want to read more of. If anyone has any recommendations for books with cute old people, please let me know!

As with most romance, Tilly’s love story was a little predictable. I saw the relationship twist coming as soon as all the boys had been introduced and yet I still liked the connection Tilly had with who she ended up with. I guess the lesson is always look for good banter, rather than good looks.

If you liked Katy’s other books, you’re guaranteed to like this one, but if you also like writing, romance and stories about fame, think about adding this to your TBR!

Review: And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon

33985636And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon
Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Stripes Books
Pages: 352
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★

Maddie really loved Katy Cannon’s previous two books (Love, Lies, and Lemon Pies and Secrets, Schemes, and Sewing Machines) so obviously we were ecstatic to get our hands on her most recently release. We were also lucky enough to get to attend Stipes’ ‘Show YA Stipes’ showcase, and Katy was there talking about And Then We Ran, making it sound so exciting and different. It’s also not often that you read a British road-trip novel, and while it wasn’t from one coast to another, it was full of fun characters and crazy adventures.

Continue reading “Review: And Then We Ran by Katy Cannon”

An Interview With Katy Cannon!

Love-lies-mincepiesFor the release of Love, Lies and Mince Pies, I got the chance to interview the author about the book and the other books in the series, Love, Lies and Lemon Pies and Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines, both of which are some of my all-time favourite contemporaries!

Maddie: What inspired you to write ‘Love, Lies and Lemon Pies’?

Katy Cannon: Basically, my love of cake! I was looking for a story that would encompass all the things I enjoy writing about most – a group of unlikely friends, great recipes and a good old-fashioned bad boy meets good girl with issues love story. The idea of a Bake Club just grew from there.

M: Did you have a favourite recipe from the book?

KC: I love them all! The ones I bake most often are the chocolate chip cookies and the double chocolate brownies, because they’re quick and easy (to make and to eat!). But my favourite is probably the Birthday Cake recipe, because that’s the cake my mum still makes for me every birthday.

M: What was your favourite part about writing ‘Love, Lies and Mince Pies’?

KC: Getting to revisit the gang and find out where they are now, a whole term after the events of Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines. When I wrote that book, my favourite thing was hanging out with the characters again, and it was the same this time. They’re all just such great fun to write!

M: Jasper was such a fun character in both books, the fact he’s getting his own story is fabulous! What did you particularly enjoy about giving Jasper a voice?

KC: I love that Jasper is everyone’s favourite, because he’s (not-so-secretly) a lot like my youngest brother. It was so much fun getting into Jasper’s head for a change, and figuring out what stresses him out, what he thinks about, and what his happy ever after looks like.

M: So, my fangirl heart needs to know, are Lottie and Mac living their happily ever after (with cake, of course)?

(*Spoiler Warning!*) KC: Of course! Mac is still living above the bakery, working out his apprenticeship at the White Hill Bakery and studying at the college, while Lottie studies for her A Levels. The whole gang hangs out at the flat sometimes, and someone is always baking something (usually Lottie).

M: It’s a tough decision, but do you prefer baking or sewing?

KC: Ooh, it is a tough one! I like sewing because I have something to keep at the end of it, but I think baking just edges ahead as my favourite because you get to eat what you make (and I do have a rather sweet tooth…).

M: What’s your favourite Christmas food?

KC: My Mum’s mince pies! They’re the basis for the mince pie recipe in Love, Lies & Lemon Pies – and in Love, Lies & Mince Pies, too, actually! They’re richer and tastier than any other mince pies I’ve ever tasted. I make them to her recipe every year, and as soon as I do it starts to feel like Christmas. But somehow, mine are never quite as good as Mum’s…

M: What’s the best advice you’ve been given about writing?

KC: Keep trying. I wrote for years before I was published, practicing, improving and learning all the way. It doesn’t come overnight – but if you give up, success doesn’t come at all.

M: And finally, would you consider writing any more spin off stories about the Bake Club gang?

KC: After the fun I’ve had with this one, I’m definitely thinking about it! I like the idea of checking in on them from time to time, seeing how they’re getting on. I’m not sure I’m quite ready to leave them, just yet.

Love, Lies and Mince Pies is being released on Katy’s website for all to see on within the next couple of days, but for now, sign-up to her newsletter for news and fun!

Christmas Recommendations!

It’s that time of year again to recommend books that are perfect to read this season!

‘Love, Lies and Mince Pies’ by Katy Cannon
This is a companion short story to ‘Love, Lies and Lemon Pies’ which was one of my top 14 books of 2014! The story focuses on Jasper, a secondary character in the both ‘Love, Lies…’ and ‘Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines’. I absolutely love that another story has been added to this series, and think it’s the perfect book to get you in the Christmassy mood! Sign up to Katy Cannon’s newsletter to receive the story for FREE on the 8th of December: here

‘Murder On The Orient Express’ by Agatha Christie
A good old murder mystery is great for this time of year – you can snuggle up and get enthralled by an intriguing crime. This mystery in particular is especially Christmassy because the murder takes place on a train that’s been snowed in. Talk about a chilling atmosphere!

‘The Fifth Wave’ by Rick Yancey

During the Christmas season, it’s easy to get caught reading a lot of cute contemporaries, but something we love to do is dip into a completely different genre. Over Christmas last year we were reading ‘Divergent’ and this year, the two books in ‘The Fifth Wave’ really caught our attention. It’s also perfect prep for the movie’s release in January 2016!

‘My True Love Gave to Me’ edited by Stephanie Perkins
But speaking of cute contemporaries, nothing can quite beat them at this time of year. What’s great about short stories is they can be read in one sitting, and having twelve different romances to read really is a gift this Christmas!

‘All Wrapped Up’ by Holly Smale
Geek girl? Check. Romance? Check. Christmas themed? Check. ‘All Wrapped Up’ has it all, so much so that Bee and I couldn’t wait until December to read it! Get to experience the beautiful and funny first date of Nick and Harriet, a couple ready to take the modelling industry by storm!

‘Sweetly’ by Jackson Pearce
And, because I couldn’t help it, I’m going to throw a fairy tale retelling in there! ‘Sweetly’ retells Hansel and Gretel in a slightly ominous and mysterious way. Twins Ansel and Gretchen go and live with a sweet-shop owner, Sophia, out in the woods, in a town where girls go missing, and not everything is as it seems…

T5W: Books I’d Save In A Fire

For any book-lover, this is the worst case scenario! It’s like asking a mother to chose between the children: its impossible to pick the ones you love the most. I think it would almost be easier to answer the opposite question, as I definitely know which books I’d leave for kindling. But, there are definitely some books on my shelves that I couldn’t imagine leaving behind:

cresslove lies and lemon piesmark of athena
1. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

This is by far my favourite of ‘The Heroes of Olympus’ series – where the gang are all together for the first time! (And who wouldn’t love the moment when Annabeth and Percy are reunited? They’re just precious.) Although ‘The House of Hades’ is beautiful, I don’t think I could live through the cliffhanger a second time. That’s why Annabeth’s solo quest is my first save!

2. Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon

This is my favourite contemporary – I could re-read it multiple times and never get bored. There’s something about this book that takes me back to my days of reading solely Cathy Cassidy books, whilst equally giving me the same feeling that ‘Anna and the French Kiss’ left me with. I hadn’t read a book that dealt with family orientated issues in a long time, so this one was a real stand out for me.

3. Cress by Marissa Meyer

I’d save cutie ‘Cress’ for the same reason as ‘The Mark of Athena’. I love when teams come together, but I also love a good fake-boyfriend plot. I really think that the ‘Lunar Chronicles’ has everything you could possibly want from a series: romance, adventure, threat and more romance.

paper townsAnnaFrenchKiss
4. Paper Towns by John Green

My favourite of his works. It’s been a while since I read ‘Paper Towns’ and I definitely think a re-read is necessary before the movie is released. This book really sparked my love of road-trips and fuelled my love of a good mystery.

5. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

No doubt the best of the companion series, Miss Perkins knows how to put a good romance together. I wish there was less confusion between Anna and Etienne and Etienne’s insignificant girlfriend (I didn’t like her so much I’ve forgotten her name.) However, Anna really sparked my interest in contemporary books, so it would be a crime to leave her behind.

It might be surprising that ‘Inkheart’ didn’t make this list, but I do have four copies. One of them is bound to escape the flames. (I only hope it’s one of the English editions!) Plus, Bee’s got a copy of ‘Fangirl’, so we’d be set on that front.

Review: Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines by Katy Cannon

katy cannonSecrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines by Katy Cannon
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published By: Stripes Publishing
Format: E-Book
Rating: ★★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

When the chance arose to read the next book in Katy Cannon’s new YA series, I couldn’t contain my excitement. After loving the first book immensively (5 stars), I couldn’t wait to read about the same characters for a second time.

This book follows the perspective of Grace, probably the least prominent member of Bake Club during ‘Love, Lies and Lemon Pies’. She came off as a bit sour and pouty during the course of Lottie and Mac’s relationship, and because of this, I didn’t like her very much. However, after reading a book devoted to exposing what she’s really like, Grace really redeemed herself.

Instead of a baking competition, the plot revolved around the latest school play, ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, my favourite Shakespeare comedy. Unfortunately, Grace didn’t receive the star role and she was lumped with a job backstage making and organising the costumes, which of course meant the existence of another after-school club, ‘Sewing Club’.

The new boy, Connor, enhances her love life, though they may seem like chalk and cheese to begin with, they are the perfect pair. Every good relationship starts with some ‘love-hate’, right? Shakespeare backs me up on this with Beatrice and Benedick.

What I thought was really original about this story line was that Grace actually changed. She wasn’t the drama queen or the queen of Drama and she certainly wasn’t the most popular. She wanted to become a more wholesome person and recognise her passion for working as a team instead of working in the spotlight. She didn’t revert back to her old ways, which was refreshing, and all her new friends accepted her for who she became, not who she once was.

Connor and Grace’s relationship held the same circular structure as Lottie and Mac’s, however, nothing terrible happened to them as a couple because they communicated with each other. Communication is something that Lottie and Mac lacked, so it was nice to see an author focus on this important aspect of a healthy relationship.

Of course, there was some family drama for Grace, along with friendship drama between Jasper, Ella and newly introduced Izzy, yet the play was the centre of the story.

I loved that Lottie and Mac were still a part of the group, but they played cameo roles compared to Grace, Jasper and Yasmin. In fact, I was really pleased to find out more about Yasmin and for her to become a more prominent character – perhaps the next book by Katy Cannon will be from her point of view?

All in all, Katy Cannon knows how to write a perfect contemporary novel, with an excellent mixture of romance, friendship and drama. I can’t help but give this novel 5 out of 5 stars as well, which is unusual, as sequels normally never parallel the debut. I look forward to everyone getting to experience this novel and hopefully enjoying it as much as I did!

Review: Love, Lies and Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon

Love, Lies love lies and lemon piesand Lemon Pies by Katy Cannon
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published By: Stripes Publishing
Pages: 329
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

I haven’t found a book that I’ve been completely in love with in a while. This is that book. I LOVED everything ‘Love, Lies and Lemon Pies’ had to offer!

First of all, the setting. It all took place within a secondary school and the majority of characters were in Year 11, so not too distant from my own year group and age. I really liked how natural everything was, and the personalities of the teachers, as well as the students were so believable.

This book reminded me of books written by Cathy Cassidy, because the main character, Lottie, was dealing with something difficult at home – her dad had died and her mum had taken to hoarding junk. I feel that in a lot of young adult books now, the focus is on the character’s romantic relationship, rather than any other relationship and parents are almost non-existent. LLLP had the perfect mixture of the two.

The romance between Lottie and Mac was endearing. I loved how we got to experience them as friends before we saw them as a couple – the romantic gestures of Mac were the most adorable things ever. Although their relationship could be quite circular, as neither participant was telling the truth about their home life or reputation, everything was resolved in a way that didn’t make me want to bash my head against a wall.

The minor characters, especially Jasper and Ella, were all significant, and it turns out that Grace stars in her own novel, ‘Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines’, the next book in this school club series. I’m excited to get to know more about her, as she was one of the less prominent members of the Bake Club. They all had their own stories to tell, after all, and I’m glad they all got exposure.

Which brings me on to the Bake Club in general. Over the last two years, I have been completely obsessed with The Great British Bake Off, so this was the perfect book to satisfy my love of watching people bake. It was so quirky that this book also included the recipes for everything the characters made, which I hope to try out sometime soon!

There’s nothing more exciting than a competition, especially if it involves baking, cakes and romance. Yay!

Gosh, I don’t know how I could give this book any less than 5 stars. It made me feel so warm and sparkly, with its cute couples and underlying messages of truth telling and supporting your friends. This novel delivered on all levels, and I can’t wait to see what Katy Cannon writes next! – Stay tuned for a review of ‘Secrets, Schemes and Sewing Machines’ soon!